chickarina: the melissa kirsch blog

A Loaf of Bread and White Hyacinths For the Soul

I have been going through old documents, scribbles, on my computer. In the midst of some rambling I found this, which I don’t think I wrote, but I can’t figure out who wrote it. It’s a list of some sort…some lines sound like me and some don’t. Whoever wrote it was incredibly clear-minded and definitive. Was it me?

I never act naturally, never stop observing myself.
You can’t make rational decisions when you have the flu.
Many humble people actually crave the limelight.
Having read Ulysses gives you an overall advantage in life.
There should be a higher premium on funny than beautiful.
My synapses are firing more slowly than they used to.
There is enough room in coach class.
Women with large breasts have it easier.
We form some opinions on politics that are untainted by the media.
Lie only to people you don’t like.
Don’t worry about money: Use your last two cents for a loaf of bread and white hyacinths for the soul.
Go outside at least once every day.
Never purposely widen the gap between you and Dad.
Stop trying to decide which poems you like and just write.
Failure in poetry writing is not a high stakes game.
I can’t believe how self-absorbed we are.
I am not as beautiful as I deserve to be.
I go outside at least once a day and ask for my glee to be stemmed.
Marry someone boring.

I feel like that line about your last two cents is some old saying. I think it’s a paraphrase. But “I ask for my glee to be stemmed” sounds like me.

6 Responses to “A Loaf of Bread and White Hyacinths For the Soul”

  1. Ginger Says:

    Can you add: Happiness is a choice.

  2. Melissa Says:

    Did I say that?
    Do you think this random list was some internal graduation keynote address made visible??!

  3. Wicksy Says:

    Was it possibly random phrases from various sources for GGTAE? None of them were from me!

  4. Kate Says:

    White hyacinths for the soul is a saying or from another poem- my great aunt used to say it. Nice thought.

  5. Alan Holyoak Says:

    The phrase “If I had two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy white hyacnths for my soul” is either taken from or is the inspiration for the song “White Hyacinths” by Elsie Tade Hawson. It includes a dedicated to Mrs. Kathreine Caldwell-Riggs. Copyright 1917, published by Mission Music Publishing Co., LA, CA.

    Here are the lyrics:

    White Hyacinths

    Two loaves of bread had I upon my table bare,
    “Life is so poor a thing I cried in my despair;
    These cheerless walls enfold the dreams my sould would grace
    The only music that I hear, strife from the market place.”

    One loaf of bread I sold, and with the scanty store,
    White hyacinths I bought, and to my garret bore;
    Ah, dreams that gave me wings! The strife stilled to a prayer,
    And life became a holy thing within my garret there.

    Oh hyacinthus, lighting up the gloom,
    White hyacinthus breathing faint perfume,
    Teach me that pain is not of life the whole,

    White hyacinthus for my Soul.

    – Elsie Tade Hawson

    Kathrine Holyoak

  6. Kathrine Holyoak Says:

    Elsie Tade Hawson is my great great aunt… I am wondering how you found her “A loaf of bread and white hyacinths for the soul” line. Is she published as a poet in any resources you have found? I would REALLY appreciate any insight you have to this or any of her other work. I am researching her life right now. You can email me directly at


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